Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Cold, ashivering in the night

I wrote the following today, after thinking about what Christmas really means to me. It may be sophomoric or pedantic (take your pick), but it's offered sincerely.

Cold, ashivering in the night?
Warm, wrapped close toward heavenly light?
Did holy hands grasp empty air,
As shepherds knelt in hush├Ęd stare?
What did good Joseph think and say
who watch'd o'er God's own Dame that day?
Did pond'ring of the Virgin's heart
Unfurl God's plan there, at the start?

And who among the gathered throng
Knew in that trough laid one so strong
Whose might the mighty angels dread
Who looks as judge o'er quick and dead
By whom all things that are were made--
Who knew there in that manger laid?
Did ox or cow or horse or sheep
A silent, holy vigil keep?

Bath'd silv'ry white by star's glory,
Didst know these the God-man's story?
Did angels with their singing done
Return on wing to th'Holy One?
Or did they stay in Beth'lem town,
And ere return, fall raptur'd down
And there adore the nascent Son
Whose High Invasion: now begun?

And what of we who now recount
What started on the shepherds' mount
As highest heaven's holy host
Foretold the coming of the Ghost
This tiny Infant soon would bring
To all who claim Him as their King?
Do we recall with reverend awe
What sages sought and fin'lly saw?

Or do we parrot call we hear
Fought yearly in this season dear?
"Merry Christmas to all!" the cry
Embattl'd would-be Ar'gorns sigh,
Who steadfast watch o'er news and store
To fight the fight each year, once more.
Remember they the charge of he
Who walked the Sea of Galilee?

Was it not He whose saying great
To bless those whom we think we hate?
Recalled by any his command
Love the Lord God and fellow-man?
Our charge we do seem to forget
Great Commission is often let
Slip idly by, each year ignore--
Like beggars stoop'd at Wal-Mart door.

Let us return with heart and soul
And unto humble Beth'lem go
And hear anew the gladsome song
Sung proudly by the angel throng
We'll see once more the shepherd's faith
That took them in to see His face
And then depart, with them, and say
"God loves and saves: e'en to this day!"

--D.E. Barker
Feast of the Nativity
25 December 2007


Monday, December 17, 2007

O Sapientia

"O Wisdom, coming forth from the mouth of the Most High,
reaching from one end to the other,
mightily and sweetly ordering all things:
Come and teach us the way of prudence.
" *

As we come to the seventh day before Christmas Eve, here in the Third Week of Advent, we can observe the ancient tradition of the Great "O" Antiphons, a series of seven prayers to Jesus in the spirit of the Season of Advent.

I see it as a way to counter the culture of Christmas-consumerism; it's my effort to mimic the revolutionary spirit of the folks at Advent Conspiracy: we have an opportunity, as Christians, to stand up and proclaim that we will not be subverted to the secularization of Christmas. Indeed, as followers of Jesus, we have an amazing opportunity to stand athwart the emptiness of the buy-me culture and declare that this is the season of Advent; a period of remembrance of the longing of a world without Christ, and a reflection on the future of a world when Christ comes again.

It may surprise us to recall that we are not presently in the season of Christmas; indeed, that season begins at sundown on December 24 and ends at sundown on January 5 (the night before Epiphany).

Let us, then, subvert the world and proclaim the Coming Christ. We may do so with tonight's prayer: the Prayer of December 17, is "O Sapientia," or "O Wisdom," the name Jesus claims as the divine Logos, the Word of God Incarnate.

The wisdom of this world flails impotent before the overwhelming Reason and Truth of the Wisdom that comes forth into the Universe out of the very mouth of Almighty Creator; a Great Invader: to free the captives, proclaim the truth, and to reign as God's Word enfleshed.

* From the Latin, "O Sapientia, quae ex ore Altissimi prodiisti, attingens a fine usque ad finem, fortiter suaviterque disponens omnia: veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiae." For more information, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O_Sapientia#O_Sapientia.